Río Turbio Coal Mine

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Río Turbio Coal Mine (Mina Río Turbio) is an operating coal mine in Argentina, Río Turbio, Santa Cruz, Argentina.


Table 1: Project-level location details

Mine Name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
Río Turbio Coal Mine Argentina, Río Turbio, Santa Cruz, Argentina -51.538363, -72.324353 (exact)

The map below shows the exact location of the coal mine:

Loading map...

Project Details

Table 2: Project status

Status Status Detail Opening Year Closing Year
Operating 1943

Table 3: Operation details

Note: The asterisk (*) signifies that the value is a GEM estimated figure.
Capacity (Mtpa) Production (Mtpa) Year of Production Mine Type Mining Method Mine Size (km2) Mine Depth (m) Workforce Size
0.072[1] 2022[1] Underground 494* 1060[2]

Table 4: Coal resources and destination

Total Reserves (Mt) Year of Total Reserves Recorded Total Resources (Mt) Coalfield Coal Type Coal Grade Primary Consumer/ Destination
450 Río Turbio Subbituminous Thermal

Table 5: Ownership and parent company

Owner Parent Company Headquarters
Yacimientos Carboníferos de Río Turbio SA Yacimientos Carboníferos Río Turbio (YCRT) Argentina

Note: The above section was automatically generated and is based on data from the GEM April 2024 Global Coal Mine Tracker dataset.


Río Turbio Mine or Mina Río Turbio is a coal mine in Argentina. Energy shortages during the Second World War prompted Argentina to undertake development of coal reserves near Río Turbio, in the southern province of Santa Cruz.[3] The Río Turbio mine began operating in 1943[4], under the auspices of YPF Mineral Coal Division, Argentina's national mining agency. Operations at Río Turbio continued growing during the following decade, with expansion of the mine itself, development of a coal processing facility, and construction of a train line to transport coal from Río Turbio to Río Gallegos, from where it was shipped up the coast to the Port of Buenos Aires.[3]

On August 6, 1958, the new company Yacimientos Carboniferos Fiscales (YCF) was created, which took over the functions of the YPF Mineral Coal Division. Under YCF's management, annual coal production reached 570,000 tonnes per annum in 1972[5] and 1 million tpa by the end of the 1970s.[6] A period of stagnation followed, as hydroelectric and nuclear power became seen as viable alternatives to coal.[5]

In 1994 YCF was privatized and renamed YCRT (Yacimientos Carboníferos Río Turbio, S.A.). Between 1994 and 2002, this new entity was owned and operated by the Taselli group, a conglomerate of companies that came to include Aceros Zapla, Materfer, Massey Fergusson, and Argentina's Metropolitan Railways.[5]

Under the 1994 privatization deal, YCRT was to receive a state subsidy of 22.5 million pesos for 10 years and a contract to supply coal to the San Nicolás thermal power plant, owned by North American energy company AES. The agreement stipulated that AES would pay 20% more than prevailing market rates for Río Turbio coal. Even so, the Taselli group failed to meet minimum production and investment quotas, reducing staff and transferring machinery to other Taselli-owned companies.[5]

In August 2001, the Argentine government stopped subsidizing YCRT, and the San Nicolás plant stopped its coal purchases. In January 2002, the Taselli Group abandoned the concession and in May the company declared bankruptcy, with former owner Sergio Taselli eventually being put on trial for alleged fraud. In 2002 Argentine president Eduardo Duhalde decided to intervene in the mine, making YCRT the first privatized Argentine company to return to state ownership.[5]

Between 2004 and 2018 the mine was plagued by repeated allegations of mismanagement and corruption.[6] By 2007 the Río Turbio project employed more than 2,800 people[5], yet production during this period fell from 308,000 tonnes per annum in 2006[7] to 30,000 tpa during the presidency of Cristina Fernández. Press reports from this period speak of idle workers, excessive bonuses and newly purchased equipment languishing unused in warehouses.[6]

In September 2015, during her campaign for re-election, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner officially inaugurated the new Río Turbio power station, which was designed to supply electricity to the national grid using coal from the Río Turbio mine.[8] However, the plant had to be shut down just 48 hours after the ceremony, with some plant officials subsequently branding the 2015 start-up as a premature and misguided campaign stunt that caused lasting damage to the plant.[9]

In February 2016, work at Río Turbio was suspended by Argentina's new president Mauricio Macri. Speaking to a group of mayors and legislators from the Río Turbio region in May 2016, Macri said, “I have been informed that [the mine] is not viable... and they have built a coal plant that doesn't work. My advisers tell me that the mine is not in a position to produce, and that we must import coal from Chile.”[5]

As of October 2016, operations at the new power plant remained paralyzed due to insufficient coal production at the mine. The Argentine newspaper La Nación reported that the Río Turbio mine was barely capable of producing 10% of the 100,000 tonnes of coal required for the plant's monthly operations, and attributed this shortfall to the misappropriation of funds earmarked for technological improvements to the mine.[10]

A feature story published by La Nación in September 2017 stated that future development of the Río Turbio power plant was contingent on the mine's ability to increase coal production from 80,000 tonnes annually to the 1.2 million tonnes required by the power station's two units. The entire project remained paralyzed by widespread allegations of corruption and misappropriations of funds dating back more than a decade, with at least 13 pending lawsuits directed at former Argentine Planning Minister Julio De Vido and other government officials involved with the project.[11]

In September 2018 YCRT announced that the mine's production would be increased to 30,000 tons a month beginning in December 2018, which would be sufficient to power the plant.[12] Company officials projected that annual production would increase to 500,000 tonnes by 2020 and 1 million tonnes by 2025. Coal sales from the mine were expected to reach US$12 million in 2019 and exceed US$24 million in 2020.[6]

In early 2019, the port of Punta Loyola became operational, facilitating YCRT's first export of coal in six years, which consisted of 25,000 tonnes shipped to southern Brazil. Over the next year, YCRT continuously produced coal for the first time in 10 years, averaging 30,000 tonnes per month.[5]

In May 2020, the Argentine government announced that it was transferring responsibility for the Río Turbio power station from IEASA (Integración Energética Argentina S.A., a public agency administered by Argentina's Secretary of Energy) to YCRT.[13] The transfer was made at the request of YCRT's comptroller Aníbal Fernández, who affirmed the company's renewed commitment to selling coal-fired energy from the Río Turbio plant.[14]

In 2020, production for the entire country of Argentina dropped to 50,000 tonnes, meaning production at the mine plummeted from 360,000 tonnes in 2018.

According to Global Data, the mine produced 1.51 million tonnes in 2021.[15] However, multiple Argentine sources call this figure into question. According to official data from the Argentine government's National Energy Balance, Argentina's total national coal production from 2019 to 2021 ranged between 19,643 and 105,000 tpa (tonnes per annum).[16][17] In 2022 various news sources reported that coal production from the Río Turbio mine has been minimal, falling fall short of the mine's target of 100,000 tonnes per month.[18][19] In April 2022, Clarín reported that the mine's coal production was only averaging 6,000 tonnes per month, with 2,346 tonnes produced in January 2022, 5,516 tonnes in February 2022 and 6,319 tonnes in March 2022.[20]

According to Zona Zero, the new Argentine government's presidential spokesperson gave statements in January 2024 indicating that the government may be pushing for the closure of the mine due to decades of suboptimal production.[21] Other reports following the election of President Milei indicated the new president's intention to privatize YCRT along with many other state-owned companies.[22]

  • Owner: Yacimientos Carboníferos Río Turbio (YCRT)
  • Parent company: Yacimientos Carboníferos Río Turbio (YCRT)
  • Location: Río Turbio, Santa Cruz province, Argentina
  • GPS coordinates: -51.538363, -72.324353 (exact)
  • Mine status: Operating
  • Start year: 1943[4]
  • Mineable reserves: 450 million tonnes[4]
  • Coal type: Sub-bituminous[7]
  • Mine size:
  • Mine type: Underground
  • Production: 360,000 tonnes per annum (2018)[12] 50,000 tonnes per annum (2020); 72,000 tonnes per annum (2021)[20]
  • Additional proposed production:
  • Equipment:
  • Number of employees: 400[6]

Articles and Resources

Additional data

To access additional data, including an interactive map of world coal mines, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Mine Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.


  1. 1.0 1.1 https://web.archive.org/web/20240309011726/https://www.clarin.com/politica/2000-empleados-yacimientos-rio-turbio-cuesta-14-mil-millones-ano-produce-5-carbon-necesita_0_Y4ymGJk5G4.html. Archived from the original on 09 March 2024. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |archive-date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20240302070330/https://laopinionaustral.com.ar/argentina/el-carbon-de-ycrt-desde-las-entranas-de-la-tierra-a-la-generacion-de-energia-electrica-511443.html. Archived from the original on 02 March 2024. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |archive-date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Razones y Origines de la Empresa YCF". Mi Río Turbio. Retrieved 2020-07-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Río Turbio: Historia de la ciudad y Leyendas de la zona". InterPatagonia. Retrieved 2020-07-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 "Yacimientos Carboníferos Río Turbio". Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre. Retrieved 2020-07-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "La mina de Río Turbio volvió a producir y proyectan alcanzar a niveles históricos". Clarín. April 22, 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Encrucijadas #45". Universidad de Buenos Aires. Retrieved 2020-07-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. "Cristina inaugura parte de la central Termoeléctrico de Río Turbio". La Nación. September 4, 2015.
  9. "Aníbal Fernández gana poder: manejará también la obra de la Usina de Río Turbio investigada por sobreprecios". Clarín. May 15, 2020.
  10. "La central a carbón de Río Turbio, paralizada y a la espera". La Nación. October 25, 2016.
  11. "Río Turbio, una mina convertida en símbolo de la corrupción". La Nación (in español). September 10, 2017.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Río Turbio iniciará una producción de 360.000 toneladas anuales de carbón para exportar a Chile". Telam. September 27, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. "BOLETIN OFICIAL REPUBLICA ARGENTINA - MINISTERIO DE DESARROLLO PRODUCTIVO - Decreto 473/2020". Ministerio de Desarrollo Productivo (in español). May 14, 2020. {{cite news}}: no-break space character in |title= at position 52 (help)
  14. "Nación transfirió a la empresa YCRT la obra de la Central Térmica". Ahora Calafate. May 15, 2020.
  15. Argentina: Five Largest Mines in 2021, Global Data, accessed December 2022
  16. "Balances Energéticos". Ministerio de Economía - Planeamiento Energético. Retrieved 2023-01-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. Gabriel Blanco, Daniela Keesler (December 2021). "Diagnóstico del rol del Yacimiento Carbonífero Río Turbio y su central térmica asociada en el contexto energético argentino (p 4)" (PDF). FARN / Facultad de Ingeniería - Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires. {{cite web}}: line feed character in |title= at position 103 (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. "Río Turbio: la mina recibió $18 millones de subsidios diarios y produjo poco carbón en todo el año". La Nación. January 2, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. "El gobierno destinará este año casi US$ 100 millones para cubrir el déficit de la empresa estatal Yacimientos Río Turbio pese a que no produce carbón". EconoJournal. July 5, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Con más de 2000 empleados, Yacimientos de Río Turbio cuesta 14 mil millones por año y produce el 5% del carbón que necesita". Clarín. April 24, 2022.
  21. El gobierno de Milei prepara el cierre de la mina de Río Turbio (Por Claudio Andrade), Zona Zero, January 4, 2024.
  22. Javier Milei nombró a dos funcionarios del PRO en Yacimientos Río Turbio y en la Agencia de Bienes del Estado, InfoBAE, December 26, 2023.